Why would anybody distrust the BLS numbers?

The BLS is  an independent organization that just reports the facts, right?

Former GOP administration insiders are coming to the BLS’ defense, testifying that the number crunchers are innocent as babies.

So, why should anybody be suspicious just because  the “household survey” is giving answers that conflict with the “establishment survey” and  is reporting job gains greater than in any other month for the past 30 or 40 years?

Here are four documented reasons to be skeptical:

1. The administration has used bullying tactics with outside pollsters – specifically Gallup

Recently, Team Obama didn’t like Gallup’s polling numbers.  So campaign chief Axlerod called them to provide some statistical counseling, and and Attorney General Holder launched a DOJ investigation of Gallup’s human resource practices. Suddenly, Gallup’s  poll numbers turned more favorable to the President, including a 1-day 12 point improvement in Obama’s approval rating.  Coincidence?   Source

2. The administration has been bullying defense contractors to violate Federal employment laws.

ABC is reporting that the White House has told defense contractors to not issue layoff notices until after the election. They even went as far as to offer to pay for any legal fees associated with their violating the law by not giving employees proper notice. Specifically, “defense contractor Lockheed Martin heeded a request from the White House – one with political overtones – and announced it will not issue layoff notices to thousands of employees just days before the November presidential election.” Source

3. Obama has used bullying tactics with other “independent government agencies – specifically the CBO.

The Congressional Budget Office is supposed to be strictly objective, and completely detached from the Administration. But, during the ObamaCare debate, when the CBO numbers weren’t looking favorable, the President ordered CBO director Doug Elmendorf to the White House for counseling.  The next week, the CBO revised its numbers.  The new estimates were  more favorable towards ObamaCare.  Another coincidence? click for news report

4. The BLS has a recent track record of questionable numbers.

Most important, for at least the last 22 election season weeks, the same BLS that reports the unemployment statistics has systematically underreported weekly initial unemployment claims by an average of roughly 1% – about 3,000 claims per week – and then revised the estimates up the next week.

Why is the preliminary under-reporting a problem?

Because each week’s “headline” number of changes in unemployment claims is derived by taking the current week’s preliminary number and comparing it to the prior week’s revised number.

For example, in the week ending September 22, the preliminary number (367,000) was compared to September 15th’s revised number (363,000) and and 4,000 drop in unemployment claims was reported. The September 15 preliminary number – the basis for the September 15 report — was 359,000. So, comparing preliminary estimates for the two weeks, unemployment claims increased by 8,000 not 4,000. And, based on the past 22 weeks of initial underreporting, that number is likely to swell when the September 22 number is revised – most certainly upwards.


* * * * *

My point: the Administration has demonstrated a willingness to bully supposedly independent groups, both in and out of government.

And, the BLS has exhibited some curious statistical reporting.

Still believe the latest unemployment report?

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One Response to “Why would anybody distrust the BLS numbers?”

  1. Flash: BLS Commissioner’s post vacant since January … previously headed by Bush appointee. « The Homa Files Says:

    […] See also “Why would anybody distrust the BLS?” […]

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